Showing posts with label Corn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corn. Show all posts


Corn & Black Bean Burgers

Veggie burgers get a bad rap. And to be fair to the carnivores that scorn them, it's true, aside from shape, there's barely any resemblance between patty-shaped veggies and the juice-dripping ground meat we Americans have established as the appropriate manifestation of the word "burger." Still, there is much to be argued for the vegetarian counterpart. For one, veggie burgers demand creativity -- since ground vegetables can't hold their own against the grill like meat can, they need some backup. This is where things get fun. Gena Hamshaw, author of the blog Choosing Raw, suggests the "you pick (at least) three" method of curating your veggie burger base. This should include a veggie (corn, zucchini, mushrooms, beets, sweet potato...), a grain (ie. quinoa, oats, rice, breadcrumbs...), a legume (beans, chickpeas, lentils...), and/or a nut (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas...) From this formula, the possibilities are limitless, and the process becomes a challenge to find the tastiest combination. 

For my burger I pulled from all four categories--

Veggie: Fresh corn
Grain: Quinoa
Legume: Black beans
Nut: Pistachio

Then I spiced the mixture up with cayenne, coriander and cumin, channeling the Southwest flavors suggested by the corn-black bean duo, and finished it off with fresh lime juice and basil. The flavor was so awesome that it was hard not to skip the burger-making and just take a spoon to the bowl. (And really, you could just stop right there and start dunking chips). But I resisted the urge, formed my patties, and grilled them up. Despite the fact that they are indeed more prone to crumbling than meat burgers, that shortcoming is forgiven when you take a bite. The slightly charred crust gives way to an explosion of flavor that summersaults over your tastebuds -- at once fresh, nutty, sweet, spicy. It won't matter that this burger isn't a juicy mass of meat -- it's not supposed to be. 


2 Tbsp olive oil, divided 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 cup onion, chopped finely 
1 1/2 cups fresh corn off the cob
1/2 cup shelled pistachios 
Salt and pepper, to taste  
1 1/2 cup cooked black beans 
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup dry) 
2/3 cups water 
1 Tbsp lime juice, plus more to taste  
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped 
Dash cayenne 
Ground cumin, to taste
Ground coriander, to taste

Rinse 1/3 cup quinoa, place in a small saucepan with 2/3 cup water and some salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid ajar for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed and you see thin rings detaching the quinoa grains. Fluff with a fork, cover, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Add minced garlic and chopped onion; saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add corn and saute an additional few minutes until heated through. *Note: In this batch I used leftover raw corn salad with minced onion, lime juice, cumin, olive oil, coriander. 

Meanwhile, pulse shelled pistachios into a course meal in a food processor with some salt and pepper. Add the black beans, quinoa, lime juice and basil and pulse to combine (you want the beans to break down slightly and the mixture to hold together, but the consistency should still have some texture, so don't process for too long). Transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in the sauteed corn and onions, using your hands to combine. Season with cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, to taste. Shape mixture into 6 round patties.

Heat grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high. [Note: You can also attempt on an open grill, but be wary of the patties' crumbly tendency on the flip. You might want to use a grill pan let you lose half of the burger through the grate.] If cooking on stovetop, heat a bit of olive oil in your skillet then add burgers and cook for about 5 minutes on each side (again, careful on the flip).

Alternatively, you can cook the burgers in the oven at 375 dgF for about 25 minutes (flipping halfway). I like to do a skillet cook first to get both sides brown and crispy, then finish off in the oven to help them heat through and hold their shape. (About 3 to 4 minutes each side in the skillet, then 10 additional in the oven.)


Blueberry Cornbread with Basil & Lime

The creation of this recipe was spurred by a corn and blueberry salsa I made earlier this summer. It was a simple, use-up-the-leftovers kind of dish that began with a few lonely ears of grilled corn that had survived the Fourth of July feast. Shaving the kernels off the cobs, I tossed them in a bowl with a handful of fresh blueberries, minced onion, lime juice, lime zest, and olive oil. Striking an effortless chord between sweet and savory, and I thought, this combination would be excellent in a cornbread. It's already a common practice to plunk blueberries into cornbread batter -- in fact any bread with blueberries wins in my book -- but corn and blues are especially allied by their sweetness. While some recipes strictly use cornmeal and flour, I incorporated fresh corn kernels into the batter as well to boost the flavor and add another textural element. (Plus, sweet corn is so delicious right now, it would have been a crime not to use the fresh stuff.) Densely packed with kernels and berries, the real excitement comes when lime and basil enter the stage -- lime's tang keeps the bread's sweetness in check, and basil grounds it with savory, earthy notes. That's summer in a skillet right there. 


3/4 cup stone ground cornmeal
1/4 cup course corn grits 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp lime zest
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 375 dgF. Coat cast iron skillet with olive oil and put in oven to heat. 

Wash blueberries, pat dry, and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp flour. (This will prevent the berries from bleeding/sinking while the bread is baking). 

In a large bowl combine cornmeal, grits, flours, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, honey, olive oil, lime juice and zest. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined. Fold in 2 cups fresh corn, blueberries and about 1/3 cup chopped basil. 

Remove hot skillet from oven and pour in batter, spreading out evenly to the sides of the pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the edges are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool briefly in the skillet -- (at this point I suggest slicing a warm wedge right from the pan and pouring a glass of milk) -- then loosen the edges with a spatula to release the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely before storing.


Cilantro & Quinoa Soup

A recent screening of I Like Killing Flies inspired this recipe. The film documents the eccentric antics of Kenny Shopsins, chef and owner of the (formerly) Greenwich Village-based diner, Shopsins. Despite his notoriously profane behavior towards customers and his "no-party-over-five" rule, his restaurant boasts an inclusive menu that puts Encyclopedia Britannica to shame, and never stops growing. A brief soup montage in the film rattles off a few of (the 86) brothy favorites, and the cilantro & quinoa combo particularly caught my attention. No idea what else was in Shopsins' recipe, but taking the title ingredients at face value, I rolled with it. Mostly I was intrigued by the idea of elevating an herb from its role as garnish to star of a dish. Of course quinoa is there to bulk up the broth, but I wanted to make the presence of cilantro more than just background noise, so I went pretty gung-ho with it. The supporting cast is simple -- red onion, garlic, coriander, salt/pepper, and a pinch of cayenne -- but the soup has a surprising amount of personality. Here it's topped off with a summery trio: grilled shrimp, diced avocado, and charred corn-off-the-cob, (and, of course, more fresh cilantro). 

[With Grilled Shrimp, Avocado and Charred Corn]

1 cup quinoa, rinsed 
4 cups vegetable stock, plus additional water as needed 
1 large bunch cilantro [yield about 1 cup chopped] 
3 small (or 1 large) red onions, thinly sliced 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
Olive oil
Sea salt 
Black pepper 
Fresh lime juice, from 1/2 lime 
Ground coriander, to taste 
Pinch cayenne pepper 

To serve: 
Grilled shrimp 
Diced avocado 
Charred corn-off-the-cob 
Fresh cilantro
Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Add garlic and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add sliced red onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

2. Rinse 1 cup quinoa and add it to the pot with the onions and garlic. Stir to coat and cook for a minute or two, until quinoa becomes fragrant and toasted. Add 4 cups vegetable stock and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa is cooked. (Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick). Season with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, ground coriander, and a pinch of cayenne. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 lime. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

3. Serve warm, topped with grilled shrimp, diced avocado, corn-off-the-cob (grilled or fresh), and more fresh cilantro and black pepper.

[Another variation: Toss in some arugula while the soup is simmering; when the greens are wilted, crack in a few eggs, cover pot, and let them cook until set. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan.]


Summer Fritters

This fritter glorifies the best of summer produce. Think potato pancake on summer vacation. Corn and zucchini -- ever-abundant at the farmer's markets right now -- replace the bland starch in a reformed pancake that is dense, yet delicate. The corn contributes pockets of sweetness and crunch, the zucchini, a pulpy freshness. The brightness of the raw vegetable combo is complimented by lemon zest and fresh parsley, giving these fritters a unique vibrancy. Chopped chickpeas team up with eggs, milk and flour to provide structural integrity and allow the fritters to bind when they kiss the skillet. After a dance in hot oil, the fritters achieve a perfectly crisp crust that gives way to a pleasantly moist and spongy inside. Stack them high and enjoy with a dollop of Greek yogurt (plus a drizzle of honey if you're feeling especially decadent).

[Yield: 12 fritters]


1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, grated
 1 1/2 cups fresh corn off the cob
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp lemon zest 
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup reduced-fat milk
2 egg whites
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
sour cream, Greek yogurt, honey (optional accompaniments)

1. Process chickpeas until roughly chopped.
2. Grate a large zucchini and allow it to drain, pressing out any excess liquid. Remove corn kernels from the cob (about 2 ears) and set aside with 1/4 cup minced red onion, lemon zest and fresh chopped parsley.
3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together milk and egg whites. Place flour in a medium bowl and gradually pour in milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Stir in chickpeas, zucchini, corn, parsley, zest and onion.
4. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup mixture to pan, spreading slightly with a spatula to create an even fritter. Repeat process, adding 3 more fritters to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate, covering to keep warm. Repeat with remaining mixture until the batter is used up, adding more oil to the pan between batches, if necessary.
5. Enjoy plain, or serve topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, if you prefer.


Cold Soup Revisited

There is no denying the power of a chilled soup to subdue the misery of the mid-summer heat. Gazpacho has long-ruled in the realm of my cold soup repertoire, though I've noticed a resurgence from a few underrated (but equally as tasty) rivals. Cucumber-mint, cool melon and chilled pea soup are a few versions that have traversed my palate this summer. The great thing about most of these blended soups is that they require little --if any -- cooking and can go from blender to bowl to mouth in minutes. 

When I came across Mark Bittman's recipe for a cold avocado-corn chowder in Cooking Light, I was eager to give it a whirl (and excited for a new way to use my bounty of fresh corn). With its natural fats and creamy texture, I expected the avocado base to hit somewhere between the less filling, exclusively veggie-based soups and the more substantial blends that use yogurt as reinforcement. However, I was surprised by the result of this broth, which, through the liberal addition of orange juice and water, lacked the viscosity that I had imagined it would have. That said, the flavor of the broth was quite wonderful. OJ and avocado turned out to be a delicious flavor marriage that became even more interesting through spicy accents of ground cayenne pepper. 

With its thin broth, this soup relies on raw ingredients for substance and crunch -- fresh corn off the cob, red bell pepper and green onions do the job well, with shredded grilled chicken breast and more diced avocado adding further texture. With a final shower of cilantro, the simple green broth is fully transformed into a refreshing, Southwest-inspired chowder.

AVOCADO-CORN CHOWDER WITH GRILLED CHICKEN [From Mark Bittman, Cooking Light August 2011]

2 ripe avocados, divided
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 teaspoon olive oil 1 small garlic clove, cut in half
1 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Peel and coarsely chop 1 avocado; place in a blender / food processor. Add water, orange juice, honey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper, if desired; blend until smooth. Place in freezer to chill while chicken cooks.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush chicken with oil; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; rub chicken with cut sides of garlic halves. Let chicken stand 10 minutes; cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.
3. Peel and dice remaining avocado. Combine with corn, bell pepper, onions and half of cilantro. Stir into chilled avocado puree. Spoon chowder into bowls; top with chicken and remaining cilantro.


Summer Duet: Corn & Blueberries

I'm a huge fan of salsa accompaniments for grilled meats. Especially unique juxtapositions of sweet and savory (think peach & pepper, mango & avocado, jicama & watermelon...) Ever on a quest for new combinations, I have recently been intrigued by several versions I've stumbled across that pair fresh corn and blueberries -- two seasonal stars right now. I got my hands on the freshest produce I could find and after schucking and de-cobbing several ears of corn I tasted a spoonful of the raw kernels. Ah, the glory of fresh summer corn. The sweet juiciness that erupted in my mouth nearly made me stop my production and eat the entire bowl. But I wanted to test the power of corn and blueberries so with much restraint I added a dose of the small blue bombs to the mix. The pair visually reminded me of a corn and black bean salsa that I repeatedly make in warm weather months, but my tastebuds knew better as both the corn and berries sang in a harmony of light sweetness. Both too fresh to be tainted by any form of cooking, I left them raw and took the salsa a few steps further. To the sweet duo I added chopped fennel and red onion for crunch and tang, and showered the group with fresh basil and mint. A sprinkling of feta added salty notes to balance the sweetness, and the flavors were united under a cloak of balsamic and olive oil. For this meal I wanted to pair the salad/salsa with a meaty accompaniment. The answer came in the form of mushrooms -- grilled portabella caps brushed with balsamic -- which provided a perfect vessel on which to top the salsa. Tossing it with chunks of grilled chicken is another great option and it is also perfectly delicious on its own.



1 cup Fennel
1 cup Blueberries
2 cups fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup Red onion
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Feta

1. In a medium bowl combine corn, blueberries, fennel and onion. Sitr in olive oil and balsamic along with fresh herbs. Top with crumbled feta and put in refrigerator to chill.
2. Heat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush portabella caps with olive oil and balsamic and place on grill, gill side down.
3. Grill 3-5 minutes until well done (nearly charred) -- time will vary depending on the level of heat. Flip mushrooms and grill for an additional 3 minutes on the other side. Mushrooms should be tender and juicy.
3. Remove mushrooms from heat and assemble (a generous) 1/2 cup of salsa on top of each cap to serve.


Operation Chili: Part 2

As I continue on my quest to widen my chili expertise, I look for unique deviations from the usual beans and ground meat. My trusted source of inspiration --Cooking Light-- provided me with two novel ideas for the third and fourth installments of my chili series: CHILI WITH CHIPOTLE & CHOCOLATE and PORK AND HOMINY CHILI. The first, though fairly standard in its core ingredients, integrates the smoky spice of chipotle chiles with the earthly sweetness of chocolate for a complex richness of flavor. I tried the Chili with Chipotle & Chocolate recipe a few weeks ago, though much to my chagrin it was a bit too spicy for the delicate palates of my mom and brother. I, however, more adventurous with the heat of my dishes, found it a perfect marriage of spice and sweet, and a very interesting way to play with the usual chili ingredients.


Cooking spray
2 cups diced onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, minced

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
Chopped green onions (optional)

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and turkey to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until turkey is browned and vegetables are tender.
2. Add sugar and next 9 ingredients (through chipotle) to pan, stirring to blend; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add chocolate, stirring to melt.
3. Ladle 1 1/4 cups chili in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream. Garnish with green onions.

(Note: This chili recipe does have more of a kick than most --at least ones that I have made. I thought it was successful, but others might not agree. Perhaps using 1 chipotle chile instead of 2 would take some heat off if you prefer milder chile. I mistakenly forgot about the dollup of sour cream initially, which also would have cooled the spice factor down a bit. After adding some to her bowl, my mom admitted that it was more enjoyable for her tastebuds.)


The second recipe, Pork and Hominy Chili, struck me as interesting since it uses pork chops instead of the standard ground turkey, beef or chicken, and rather than using beans, it highlights hominy -- an ingredient that I had no familiarity with until I came across this dish. I learned that hominy is a nutty, tender ingredient made from dried, hulled corn kernels. Unfortunately, the market at which I went shopping for my ingredients for this dish did not have canned hominy, but I was told that canned corn could easily be substituted. I also opted out of using the pork chops and instead used chicken breasts, which I cooked and then shredded with a fork before adding to the chili. So, I guess my take on this recipe must be re-named as the alliterative Chicken and Corn Chili. Here's my creation:


2 teaspoons canola oil
8 ounces chicken breasts (I used 1 full breast), trimmed

1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 (15.5-ounce) can golden corn, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet and transfer to cutting board. Shred breasts with a fork and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, chili powder and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper). Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste, corn, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10+ minutes.